This exhibit has ended.

An Oasis of Lyrical Sculpture

April 29 – October 29, 2023
Sculpture by Kate Raudenbush with Poetry by Sha Michele

The world premiere of Incanto: An Oasis of Lyrical Sculpture is the highlight of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden from April 29-October 29, 2023. Included with Garden admission; free for members. 

  • Five intricately designed, allegorical sculptures accompanied by poetry invite a journey of self-discovery and connection with others and the natural world.
  • This is the premiere exhibition of New York City-based sculptor Kate Raudenbush, with poetry by Sha Michele in a friendship born from the legendary Burning Man community.
  • Each piece is intentionally designed to be in dialogue with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s landscape.
  • Most of the sculptures invite guests to step inside. With heights reaching up to seventeen feet, they serve as portals to other worlds of thought, meaning, and healing.
  • Evening hours: Dramatically lit from within, the Incanto sculptures offer multi-sensory experiences inviting further exploration at night. The Garden has evening hours May 3-Oct. 28; Wednesdays through Saturdays; until 9 p.m. and food and drink are available for purchase in the Garden Cafe. The Garden Shop also has extended hours on select evenings.
  • Community Partners: on the second Friday evening of each month (May-September), the Garden collaborates with Gallery5 and other community partners on programming related to the Incanto exhibit. See the calendar for Incanto-related events.

The debut of these original works of sculpture and poetry explores our human nature and invites guests into a transformational space of self-inquiry. Each sculpture of Incanto will emerge out of the garden landscape in dialogue with a poem, with the intention of creating a sacred container where words, as questions and even incantations, activate the space and spark creative thought among guests.

Please note the sculptures are works of art; please do not touch them.

Highlights of Media Coverage

Healing Through Art and Nature: A Journey Through Kate Raudenbush’s “Incanto”
Burning Man Journal; Oct. 27, 2023

Poetic Sculpture
Virginia Living; August 25, 2023

Forget Canceled And Delayed Flights, Plan An End-Of-Summer Road Trip To Richmond Instead
Forbes, August 22, 2023

Incanto Exhibition at Botanical Garden Invites You to Reflect
Northern Virginia, August 15, 2023

The Newest Exhibit At Richmond’s Botanical Garden Combines Sculpture And Poetry
Southern Living; July 16, 2023


Enchanted Evenings & More

Dramatically lit from within, the Incanto sculptures offer multi-sensory experiences inviting further exploration at night. Starting May 3, the Garden has evening hours on Wednesdays through Saturdays until 9 p.m. with dining. Join us on Friday evenings in October for a family-friendly scavenger hunt to find all five Incanto sculptures during Flashlight Fridays. Looking for a Saturday Adult Happy Hour experience? Relax at Sips Under the Stars on the Garden Cafe Patio, with signature cocktails inspired by the sculptures of Incanto (through Oct. 21).

See Calendar


See sculpture locations on the Garden Map

Resonant Passage

Location: Sunken Garden in the Central Garden

Reflecting our life path, the hammered steps suggest the arduous uphill climb of human evolution. In the mirrored surface, we pause for reflection: of ourselves, the world around us, and others that mirror us back to ourselves.

On the other side of the pyramid, another journey—sometimes hidden from view—is taking place. Like different paths up the same mountain, we meet others along the way, intersecting and elevating our lives. The portal illustrates the serendipity of meeting others at exactly the right time in your life’s story arc, supporting your path, and experiencing the flow of life along with you.

The pyramid is symbolic of human striving for knowledge, a connection to something larger than yourself, and finding a sense of purpose. The arcs illustrate the different paths we each take on our journey to self-realization, yet remind you that you are never alone.


Horticulturist: Dean Dietrich

Container Plants:

Container Plants from Resonant Passage

SNAKE PLANT | Dracaena zeylandica

JAPANESE MEADOWSWEET | Spiraea japonica ‘NCSX1’ Double Play® Candy Corn®

PERSIAN SHIELD | Strobilanthes dyerianus

MILLION BELLS | Calibrachoa Aloha® Kona Dark Red

WINDMILL PALM | Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Taylor’

Fountain Bed Plants:

Fountain Bed Plants from Resonant Passage

URN PLANT | Aechmea ‘Red Candles’

ELEPHANT EAR | Alocasia ‘Dark Star’

LANTANA | Lantana camara ‘Balucyell’ Landmark™ Yellow

SAGE | Salvia × hybrida ‘BBSAL09001’ Rockin’® Deep Purple

ANGEL WINGS | Caladium bicolor ‘Burning Heart’ Heart to Heart®

WEEPING BROWN SEDGE | Carex flagellifera ‘’Toffee Twist’

ZINNIA | Zinnia elegans ‘Magellan Orange’

ORNAMENTAL PEPPER | Capsicum annuum ‘Black Pearl’

Pyramid: Human striving for knowledge, evolving upwards

Staircase: The effort of evolution, life path, a journey, a quest

Portal: Purpose, destination, threshold of self-knowledge, meeting the others on the journey

Mirrored Reflective Material: Self-reflection, self-knowledge, yet also a reflection of the people and world around you

Hammered Material: The evidence of shared steps of the journey

Arc: The trajectory of your personal journey, your story arc, the path emerging from source and returning to source

Carving Patterns: The power of writing your intention, having a sense of purpose, the directed energy of striving to connect to something larger than yourself, and leaving a positive mark on the world

Water and Fountain: Vital energy, Life Force flowing through all things, the cycle of life emerging from source and returning to source

1. As you walk your own path, what is your sense of purpose that drives you forward?

2. When is it important to walk your own path, and when do you need to walk with others?

3. Imagine that a higher, future version of yourself is beckoning you forward on your life’s path. What words of encouragement are they giving you?

Source Code

Location: Terraced Lawn Near Conservatory

Source Code focuses on the relations between the power and grandeur of human achievement, and the ultimate power of Mother Earth. It acknowledges that our existence relies on the bounty of Earth’s resources. The ultimate source code, it seems, is not found in technological code; but rather in the vast resources of the plants, animals, earth, air, and waters that support our interdependent existence.


Horticulturist: Dean Dietrich

Plants from Source Code

ANDORRA JUNIPER | Juniperus horizontalis ‘Plumosa’

WEEPING BIRCH | Betula pendula ‘Youngii’

FRINGE FLOWER | Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Darkfire’

PASSIONFLOWER VINE | Passiflora ‘Sunburst’


Pyramid: Human striving and invention, humanity’s quest to connect to a divine energy, ancient architecture, the quest for knowledge

Keystone of Plants: The Earth’s resources, the vital source code of all life that holds us in balance (plants have been chosen by the Garden's Horticulture team in collaboration with the Artist)

Patterns Circuitry: The symbols of computer engineering, modern human progress, as translated into ancient-meets-future patterns

Altar of Water: The precious natural world at the center of human progress (the altar can also function as a birdbath)

Water: Flow; the Life Force of all things

Light Inside and Above the Altar: The animating life force of Nature

Light in the Pyramid: The inner fire driving human progress, and the ghost in the machine of technological progress

Pyramid: Human striving and invention, humanity’s quest to connect to a divine energy, ancient architecture, the quest for knowledge

Keystone of Plants: The Earth’s resources, the vital source code of all life that holds us in balance (plants have been chosen by the Garden’s Horticulture team in collaboration with the Artist)

Patterns Circuitry: The symbols of computer engineering, modern human progress, as translated into ancient-meets-future patterns

Altar of Water: The precious natural world at the center of human progress (the altar can also function as a birdbath)

Water: Flow; the Life Force of all things

Light Inside and Above the Altar: The animating life force of Nature

Light in the Pyramid: The inner fire driving human progress, and the ghost in the machine of technological progress

1. When was the last time you made a conscious effort to be out in nature, fully unplugged, with no cell phones or devices at hand? How did you feel?

2. Have a look at the human-manufactured world around you. What plant, animal, mineral, or other natural resource are these objects in your world derived from?

3. What do we need to change in order to hold human progress in balance with the finite resources of the Earth? How can you start with taking action yourself?

4. We need the resources of the Earth to survive. Does the Earth need humanity?

Seed of Self

Location: Streb Conifer Garden

From this seat in the now, you gaze into the mandala of the past and recall the traces of your life lived up to this point. Memories full of complexity, patterns of choices, seeds of action planted and grown down paths taken and not taken. Visualize the light of curiosity, passion, ideals and human relationships of your life leading up to this moment now. And there, reflecting in its center, is an orb containing both the witness and creator of this present moment: you.

You are seated in a garden, on a bench, on the edge of now, in the framework of the future of your life yet to be lived. This framework is a trellis on which to nurture the growth of opportunity and possibility.

Time, and what you do with it, is at the root of this Seed of Self. This space is intended to become an energetic focal point for meditation, and a mandala of personal meaning and direction.


Horticulturist: Elizabeth Fogel

Plants from Seed of Self

HOSTA | Hosta ‘Blue Angel’

OSTRICH FERN | Onoclea struthiopteris ‘The King’

REX BEGONIA | Begonia ‘Escargot’

REX BEGONIA VINE | Cissus discolor

Seed: A symbol of potential energy and growth

Reflective Orb: A symbol of your inner self, the witness and creator of your life, a meditation tool for self-reflection

Seat: A place in the Now to meditate and reflect on the past, the present, and the future

Finished Seed of Self Hemisphere: The cumulative experiences of your past

Unfinished Seed of Self Hemisphere: The framework of the future of your life

Light: Your inner light, your life force energy

1. What is your favorite way to meditate? How does meditation help you feel present in the now?

2. When you think of your past what are 3 guiding principles you have lived by to get to this moment?

3. What are you most excited about when you think of the future? What is one small step you can take this week that will get you there?

Breaking Point

Location: Flagler Garden Near Monet Bridge

Conceived in 2020, this sculpture attempts to capture the spirit of transformation in a year that shook the world. In the wave of global uncertainty, fear of the pandemic, and distrust of power structures, so many around the world felt they were at their breaking point. This was experienced personally, socially, politically, with our concepts of justice and racial understanding at a critical inflection point. Our collective health, both mental and physical, cried out for healing.

This sculpture is a symbol of evolving through struggle. The spears are a symbol of courage and facing fears head-on, trusting that you will find the light in the darkness.

How we heal and how we transform through life’s challenges shapes profound ways. The end of something is also a beginning. Change is evolution.


Horticulturist: Megan Lacey

Plants from Breaking Point

NARANJILLA | Solanum quitoense

FLAX | Phormium ‘Black Rage’

CUSHION SPURGE | Euphorbia epithymoides ‘Bonfire’

Portal: A threshold of change and evolution

Omega Symbol: Closure, finality, the end (the last letter of the Greek alphabet)

Silhouette of Human: Identity, society, self

Arrow/Spear: Struggle, conflict, a catalyst, a direction, moving forward, courage

Pathway: The way through, the journey ahead

Light Inside Arrow Tips: Evolution through struggle, a beacon, finding light in the darkness to guide your way forward, hope, courage, inner light

1. How have your challenges shaped you into a stronger and wiser person?

2. What is the importance of courage?

3. What good people have you met through shared struggle?


Location: Flagler Garden Lawn

This portal creates a symbolic passage that oscillates from form to formless, defining the invisible energy that we leave behind when we dematerialize from this physical plane of existence.

If physics tells us that matter and energy cannot be destroyed, but only change form, then the transition to a non-material presence might merely be a return to that crucible of energy, reintroducing spirit into a vast web of intergenerational resonance that flows through all things.

It is in our memory that we can hold those we love, carrying them with us, feeling the energetic echo of their presence created in the wake of their departure. We honor them by keeping their memory alive, and living a life of integrity to pass on to future generations.


Horticulturist: Megan Lacey

Plants from Ancestors

CUSHION SPURGE | Euphorbia epithymoides ‘Bonfire’

NORTHERN LADY FERN | Athyrium angustum ‘Lady in Red’

LEAVENWORTH’S SEDGE | Carex leavenworthii

DRACAENA | Cordyline cv.

BEAR’S BREECHES | Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’

Portal: Threshold of transition

Circle: Continuity, wholeness

Energy Waves: Shared DNA, shared lineage, interwoven history, human and spiritual presence

Silhouette: Physical absence but energetic presence, memory of loved ones

Mirrored Figure: The Universal Ancestor, the presence of one’s self as a reflection of the Ancestor in the present moment

Hammered Reflection: The multitudes of life, reflected by each of our existences

Heart-centered Portal: Flowing Life Force energy, memory, love

Light: Spirit of presence and continuity, memory, love

1. How much do you know about your ancestry?

2. How do you honor your family’s legacy in the present day?

3. How do you see yourself on the continuum of your ancestry?

4. What is the contribution that you are making in your timeline for future generations?

What materials are used in Incanto?

Corten/ Weathering Steel: This steel is designed to rust. Its rugged look is an intentional character of the design and will change and deepen in color with time, when exposed to the outdoor elements.

Stainless Steel: This metal is used in mirror finish, hammered finish and a hand-applied blackened patina finish. It is also the material of the reflecting orb inside Seed of Self.

Bronze: This golden material is used as sanded material, hammered material, and with a hand-applied darkened patina.

Glass: Sand, blasted patterned glass is featured in the central altar/birdbath of Source Code.

Wood: Reclaimed redwood from a former New York City water tower is used as the bench inside Seed of Self.

Resin: 3D-printed clear resin is used to create the spear tips featured in Breaking Point. These spear tips are not sharp. They are also positioned to meet ADA complaint doorway dimensions.

Aluminum: This lightweight metal is used as the side arcs of the stairs featured in Resonant Passage.

LED Lighting: Low voltage LED lighting has been custom designed and built to illuminate each sculpture within. The illuminated artworks reveal a different facet of character and feeling of the Incanto artworks when experiencing the sculptures at night. The sculpture’s discovery in the darkness is intended to create a magical experience. The surreal, otherworldly quality of the lighting design aims to create a beckoning sense of presence, mystery, and adds to the layered, allegorical meaning of the artworks. In this way we hope that guests to the garden to see Incanto will return again to experience the show during the day and night.

Follow the Creative Process

Work-in-Progress on Social Media

The artists are creating the exhibit especially for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. We’ll share their work-in-progress with exclusive content in the months leading up to the show’s debut. We invite you on the journey as these two artists create an experience specially designed for you.

Meet the Artists

Kate Raudenbush and Sha Michele

Kate Raudenbush (left) and Sha Michele (right) began collaborating at Burning Man after meeting there in 2000, and later creating Raudenbush’s first sculpture for the 2004 event. Kate has since become known for large-scale, allegorical works in laser-cut steel that form immersive, high-concept, experiential spaces for human connection. In her poems and art, Sha Michele draws on her African-American, Native American and European ancestry to address questions of heritage, cultural definitions, longing, and belonging.

Kate Raudenbush is an award-winning sculpture artist who emerged out of the creative vanguard of Burning Man to exhibit her work widely in the U.S. and internationally at art fairs, civic squares, arts festivals, galleries and museums. She has forged a creative path in Seoul, Amsterdam and Tulum, to Hollywood, Montreal and Washington, D.C.  Poet Sha Michele has storied experience as a former actress and designer in Los Angeles, working with Spike Lee, Jamie Foxx and Gita Salem, in addition to her talent as an internationally exhibited designer of exotic, nature-inspired, totemic jewelry.  Both artists incorporate a range of cultures, symbols and mythology in their work. They are thrilled to bring this thought-provoking, dynamic exhibit to the greater Richmond community.

Instagram: @KateRaudenbush and @ShaMicheleArts


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